Someday a member of the Board of Regents of the University of California will have the courage to suggest that hosting the Miguel Contreras Labor Program at the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses compromises the academic credibility of the institution and taints the overall image of its research programs.
In the meantime, the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and individual union entities continue to enjoy the public relations benefits of having the prestigious University of California name and logo on its propaganda operation. It probably isn’t a coincidence that the UC Labor Program often releases its reports and studies just before legislative votes on related bills and elections on related ballot measures.
On November 3, a media relations specialist in the University of California at Berkeley Office of Public Affairs posted a bulletin on the university’s News Center web site: “UC Berkeley Report Raises Alarm about Falling Wages, Outsourcing at U.S. Airports.”
It announced that “a new UC Berkeley study to be released” on Monday, November 4 reveals that “outsourcing of airport jobs that once sustained middle-class careers has left many airport workers in jobs characterized by insecurity and low wages…According to the authors, airports can take steps to address these wage declines.”
And what are those steps? The report “comes as voters in SeaTac, Wash., a city adjacent to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, consider a local ordinance that would set a $15-per-hour minimum wage for many airport and airport-related workers…”
That election was held on November 5. As of 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time, the Proposition 1 ballot measure was leading 54% to 46% in the vote count.
It’s unclear if the report – Course Correction: Reversing Wage Erosion to Restore Good Jobs at American Airports – made a difference for any voters, as it appears that none of the major news sources in the Seattle media market reported it. However, the Los Angeles Times published an article on November 4 about the ballot measure (Seattle Suburb to Vote on $15 Minimum Wage for Airport, Hotel Workers). It cited the report and quoted the report’s lead author, Ken Jacobs, the chairman of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education (an affiliate of the University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program).
Like the report itself, the Los Angeles Times article noted that the report was funded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a major backer of the SeaTac Proposition 1. The Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW) is trying to organize contractors at Los Angeles International Airport and has even filed a lawsuit (SEIU-United Service Workers West v. City of Los Angeles, et al.) contending that the environmental review of the airport’s future construction plan violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.